By Megan/Image: windowsforreflection.com
I recently had the opportunity to visit Palmyra, New York. Palmyra is significant to me because it is where the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Joseph Smith, saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. As a young boy of just 14 years old, Joseph Smith experienced a life changing event–an event that changed my world and everyone else’s.
When my family traveled to Maine, we visited Kirtland, Ohio, Palmyra, New York, and Harmony, Pennsylvania. Kirtland and Harmony were amazing, but Palmyra was my favorite place. In Palmyra, we visited the Hill Cumorah. This is where where Joseph Smith was led to discover the golden plates that contained the ancient record of an early people; scriptures that would come to be known as the Book of Mormon.
I visited Joseph Smith’s family home where he lived with 11 family members. It certainly made me grateful for my home. As we walked through the homes and looked where the plates were hidden and walked where Joseph Smith once walked, I could feel the Holy Spirit strongly.
My favorite place was the Sacred Grove. To most people it looks like a forest with many trees and many bugs. But to me, this isn’t just another forest. This is the sacred place where a boy, a boy even younger than me, prayed to Heavenly Father. This is where a boy with questions came. He wanted answers, and he was determined to get them.
It took a lot of courage for Joseph to come to this spot and pray. He didn’t know which church was true or which to follow. He was confused, and he did the only thing the scriptures told him to do (James 1:27), he asked of God. That is when Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph with His Son, Jesus Christ, at His side. Here was a fourteen year old boy asking a simple question that turned out to be not so simple.
In fact it was a complex question, and one that would require a lot of work to answer. Joseph Smith didn’t feel discouraged by this, however. Instead, he took it head on. From that moment forward he knew which church was true and he knew he had to restore it to this earth.
As I walked into the Sacred Grove that morning, I felt the Spirit stronger than I had ever felt it before. The moment I stepped into the calm woods, my heart was burning with truth. At that moment I knew everything to be true. It amazed me how just a simple step into the Sacred Grove made me feel such a difference.
Tears formed in my eyes as I walked the path. I looked around, amazed at the fact that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ could have appeared anywhere in the Sacred Grove to Joseph Smith. It could have been anywhere. I remember the feeling I had perfectly to this day. I knew without a doubt that Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and the Son. He really did ask of God, and God answered him.
A boy with a question received an answer. A boy with a question was given the responsibility to translate the Book of Mormon. A boy with a question restored the church to this Earth. And because there was a fourteen year old boy who was confused, I have the gospel in my life today. Because he questioned and wondered, I can feel the Spirit. Joseph wanted to know which church was true, and because he did I can repent of my sins. I can receive priesthood blessings and counsel. I know how to pray and I know that God is real.
If Joseph Smith were to never question which is the true church, my faith would be different today. Because of him, we have a church. We have the priesthood, the gospel and the Spirit. We know the truth and we can teach it to others. We can return back to our Father in Heaven, and for that I will be forever grateful.
I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and all the hard work he had to go through to restore the truth. He was a good man, a brave man, a faithful man. He risked his life for me and you — and then ultimately, he gave his life. He did everything he was told in order to bring Christ’s church back to the Earth. When I am in Heaven, I want to give him a hug and thank him for everything. Without Joseph Smith, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today.
I know he was a true prophet, and I know he did the right things. He brought truth and light back to the world, and I could never repay him. He suffered harsh, cruel things. But one thing he never did was give up. He pushed forward despite the ridicule and the pain. He ignored the naysayers and did what his Heavenly Father asked. He was obedient and faithful. He was a wonderful man and a perfect example. I am grateful for Joseph Smith and everything he did for me.
“Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven; Earth must atone for the blood of that man. Wake up the world for the conflict of justice. Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again. Hail to the Prophet, ascended to Heaven! Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain. Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren; Death cannot conquer the hero again.” -Praise to the Man